Why in the world did I do this?

by Gayle McClure in


I have to admit, the past couple of months have been really tough.  What was supposed to be my "busy" season, simply put, has NOT been busy.  I have had many, many hours of reflecting on my decision to start this business and sometimes wishing I hadn't done it.   I have even gone so far as looking into getting work in my old career field to help tide us over.  But not once have I thought about closing the doors.  If anything I'm more resolved than ever to make this work.   

Everyone in the yarn business says that October to March is the busy season.  I stocked up on inventory in anticipation and then we have one of the warmest Decembers on record.  I've been told to not take it personally, that everyone in the industry is feeling it, but that doesn't help me when I sit down to pay the bills.  

I'm not complaining  (well maybe a little bit)  just reflecting on one of the most important things I've learned in my first year of owning a retail business - YOU CAN'T PREDICT ANYTHING!  You just have to keep plugging away and trying new things.  

I have also read that it takes 3 years to establish a retail presence.  It used to amaze me when someone who lives in the neighborhood would walk in and say, "When did you open?  I didn't know you were here."  Even avid yarn people.  I have a tendency to think that everyone who lives here walks the streets, is on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, reads the local newsletters cover-to-cover and is as engaged in the neighborhood as I am.  The majority of people are not!  That is the second big lesson I have learned. 

The past few days have been amazing in our City and in our neighborhood.  We have seen a record broken for most snowfall in a single storm (30 inches in 30 hours).  We have seen our City and neighborhoods rally and dig out like never before and neighbors pull together to help each other.  For all of our problems Baltimore is still a great city of great neighborhoods and the SoBo Peninsula is the greatest neighborhood of them all.  

What makes this neighborhood so great is the wonderful mix of residential and retail and hospitality businesses, along with the diversity of people who live here.  And I plan to be a part of that for many years to come.  Both as a resident and a business owner.   

 

 


Projects Finished/Projects Started

by Gayle McClure in


Are they Knit Worthy? 

This was a week of finishing projects and starting new ones.  I finally finished all my knitted Christmas projects!!!  One word of advice when chosing who to knit or crochet gifts for - MAKE SURE THEY ARE KNIT WORTHY!!!   Not everyone appreciates our efforts and the thought and time that goes into hand making a scarf, cowl, shawl or a hat. Most of my giftees did.  

From the Mountain Cashmere/Sailor Scarf

I also finished a beautiful cashmere Sailors Scarf for my husband.  It was the first time I have knitted with pure cashmere.  Oh what a treat.  I did learn that this cashmere does not look great as your are knitting it but once it is blocked it is amazing.  

Arrow Caterpillar Shawl (die Pfeilraupe)

As for new projects, I have figured out the Arrow Caterpillar Shawl that has been floating around the internet recently.  I found a translated version that was still difficult to understand.  So I sat down with the printout and some yarn and worked through it.  It is really easy and fun.  Although there are a lot of stitches to cast on (288), you don't work them all on every row which makes for a lot of interest so you don't get board.  

This coming week my goal is to work up the shawl and rewrite the instructions so that they are easier to understand.  I really want to do a spring KAL (Knit Along) using this pattern and the Blue Heron Organic Cotton yarn.  Picutres coming soon.  

Until next week....  and remember Yarn is so much cheaper than therapy.  


I resolve to .....

by Gayle McClure


I usually don't make New Year resolutions but this year I do have one.  To write a blog at least once a week.  

When I decided to open the store that was one of my goals.  I had planned to write about the whole process.  But whenever I would sit down to write there was so much going through my head I couldn't decide on a theme.  It has been a crazy year.  Can you believe it has been almost (Feb 1st) one year since I made this decision!!!  

The posts will be in 3 categories: 

1. The trials and tribulations of opening a new brick and mortar business.  Mostly specific to the yarn and needlecrafts business, but sometimes more generic.  

2. Learning New Things.  For example, I just bought a book on finishing needlework.  I would love to offer that service but know nothing about it.  I honestly learn something new everyday.  

3. Video and step by step How To's.   I need to learn how to do video's for publication.  Maybe that will be my first "Learn New Things" post :-).   This category will include Knit Along (KAL) tutorials as well.  

I hope that you all will enjoy my musings.  I will try to make them informative and fun.  WISH ME LUCK!!!

Happy New Year!  And remember Yarn is Cheaper than Therapy!  


What's the Point?

by Gayle McClure


WHAT'S THE POINT?

That's what I kept asking myself as I found myself once again looking for a new project or project management position. I have been in IT (information technology) for over 30 years, since it was called DP (data processing).   I guess I had become jaded because nothing excited me anymore.  Every new client, every new project was just a slightly different flavor of the same old soda pop. Not like in my earlier career when we had to be creative and innovative and really felt like we were solving problems and making a difference.  Now it seemed like we were just another commodity.  

For the past year or so I had been joking with my friends in the industry that it was time for me to retire and open my own yarn shop.  But I wasn't really joking.  I had been reading and researching and wondering if I could do it.  Did I have the COURAGE? 

I have been a needle person my entire life. I started sewing when I was 4 or 5.  I made my own clothes, outfits for my children and lots of home decor.  At one point I did a lot of cross stitching.  My Mother is a great seamstress to this day and still makes prom dresses and even a wedding gown recently.  My grandmother was a knitter. I had tried over the years to teach myself knitting or crocheting but could never get the hang of it.  Then 5 years ago that serendipitous Groupon showed up in my inbox.   Learn to knit for $20!  Little did I know my life had just changed! 

Then, the first week of February almost exactly 5 years after that Groupon appeared, I was walking to Cross Street Market and saw a small "for rent" sign in the window of a store just 2 blocks from my house and my first thought was "What a perfect store front for a yarn shop".  Over the next couple of days it kept nagging at me and I could think of nothing else.  As I sat refreshing my crocheting skills in preparation to make something for my Granddaughter Ava, the name of my shop came to me - it wasn't What's the Point?, that is too negative, too uncertain.  Why do we knit and crochet and sew? We do it to create something with our own hands, something that is unique each time and carries a bit of our heart with it. We don't do it for money, we do it for love.  

THAT'S THE POINT!  

Next time:  My philosophy and mission for the shop.